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CNN Today

NATO Allies Test Submarine Rescue Operations

Aired September 8, 2000 - 1:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The whole world learned recently just how dangerous submarines can be and how difficult it is to get help from the outside world.

This week, off the southern coast of Turkey, three NATO allies are practicing the art of submarine rescue, and CNN's Richard Blystone is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When something goes wrong, and the water that hides you becomes your enemy, then you know what lonely is.

Diving to the rescue, a mini submarine called Sierra III (ph). But it's not over yet.

(SHOUTING)

It started like this: The Turkish sub Sakaria (ph) simulates an emergency 82 meters beneath the surface of the Mediterranean. The Italian rescue ship Anteo (ph) gets the Turkish call for help and launches its mini sub.

Nearby, off the Turkish coast this week, a couple of dozen similar training exercises, all planned long before the disaster that hit the Russian submarine Kursk.

(on camera): As focused as they are on their jobs today, what happened a month ago, in the very different waters of the Barents Sea, is not very far from anybody's mind.

ROB STEVENS, REAR ADMIRAL, BRITISH ROYAL NAVY: It's a terrible tragedy. And I think most of us really feel very sorry for the families and those that lost their lives; so yes, any submariner will tell you he feels it deeply.

BLYSTONE (voice-over): The Kursk disaster spotlighted the question of submarine rescue and the many problems that go with it.

The U.S. Navy's 30-year-old submarine Mystic, flown all the way from California, developed propulsion problems and will be out of action nearly a week.

It may be training, but nothing can make it routine. Sierra III has equipment problems. Good luck.

The simulated emergency leaves the Sakaria able to communicate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Position is...

BLYSTONE: The standard language between Turk and Italian is English.

Standard, too, the markings on the sub and the procedures. Sierra III pilot Lt. Bruno Russo (ph) inches toward the target. Sweltering in the tiny sub, he approaches again and again.

After an hour and a dozen tries: Ships of two NATO nations clasp hatches in friendship. Three Turkish submariners climb into the mini sub.

In practice, at least, it worked.

Richard Blystone, CNN, in the Eastern Mediterranean.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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